Journey to the Manger: Mary

Lauren and Jackson at our church's candelight Christmas Eve service

Lauren and Jackson at our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service

On Christmas Eve, we pondered with Mary on our Journey to the Manger.

Mary was there for it all. The Angel Gabriel appeared to her to announce the Messiah was coming, and she would be His mom. She believed and trusted Her Heavenly Father, and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth to see God’s miraculous power first-hand. She spent three months with Zechariah and Elizabeth, and may have even seen the birth of John the Baptist. Mary traveled with her betrothed husband Joseph to Bethlehem to be counted in the census declared by Caesar Augustus. When they arrived, no one would give them room, and the two ended up in a stable when Mary went into labor. She gave birth to a son, wrapped him in strips of cloths and laid him in the manger. When the shepherds arrived later and bowed low before her newborn baby, they must have told amazing stories of an angel proclaiming the Messiah’s birth and heavenly hosts filling the night’s sky. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, and while there to fulfill the law concerning their son, they met Simeon and Anna who prophesied about Jesus. Later, wise men came and worshiped Jesus, laying expensive gifts before Him, telling them of the star that guided them from so far away. Joseph then helped Mary and Jesus quickly escape Jerusalem when God came to him in a dream revealing Herod‘s evil plans. Mary and Joseph eventually made their way back to Nazareth, where they raised their son.

Mary

Mary

Mary experienced these moments and so many more as she watched her precious Son grow, in favor with God and man. She was there when Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water to wine. She watched and heard about His travels from town to town proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven was here. She marveled as her Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed thousands, even raised the dead.

And, Mary stood at the foot of the cross, where her child hung by nails pierced through His hands and feet.

Mary was there at the beginning and at the end.

The night Jesus was born, Scripture tells us that Mary treasured every moment. She stored every tear, every kiss, every snuggle, deep within her heart. She wondered and worshiped as she listened to the shepherds and watched them praise God for her perfect little boy.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

– Luke 2:19

Jesus is our treasure. He longs to reign in our hearts, for us to ponder His love and abundant grace.

Tonight, our family pondered Jesus’s story and treasured it up in our hearts at our church’s candlelight Christmas Eve service. We watched candles being lit as Scripture was read, and sang carols praising God for His great gift of love. When we returned home, we spent time together talking about what a wonderful month we’ve had approaching the manger and focusing on Jesus, the greatest gift of all.

I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve than treasuring the Savior we will celebrate tomorrow!

Journey to the Manger: Wise Men and Gifts

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

The kids consider what they can give to Jesus this Christmas.

We worshiped the King with the Wise Men today on our Journey to the Manger.

Wise Men Give Gifts

Wise Men Give Gifts

The Wise Men came to worship and honor the King God revealed to them in the stars. Before they set out to travel, they chose several gifts of significance, worthy of royalty. When they finally reached the humble place the child lived, the men from the east still fell to their knees in reverence and respect. They were in the presence of God Himself.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

– Matthew 2:10-11

So much of our focus at Christmastime is on the presents. We stress over getting everyone the perfect gift, and then paying for it all. Children write up their Christmas lists, as if getting everything on them means it’s been a great holiday. The malls are packed, traffic is snarled, and we are exhausted.

The tradition of gift-giving that Christians draw from the example of the wise men is all about the worship and adoration of the Savior. Yet, we have made the heart of Christmas about us instead of Jesus.

Today, the kids and I spent time considering what we could give to Jesus. Inside a wrapped gift were objects that represented ways we could worship Jesus. For instance, a musical instrument symbolized worshiping God in song, and we sang “Jesus Loves Me” as a gift to God. A bedtime toy reminded us we could honor God by giving Him our dreams and future. Monopoly money showed we could give God our change to be used in ministry. We looked at the hands and feet of a doll to brainstorm how we could use our feet to go and hands to serve and help others. We read a book together because growing in our knowledge of God shows how much we value our relationship with Him.

God gave us what we could never deserve in 10,000 lifetimes: His One and Only Son. God’s love is immeasurable and His grace unsurpassed. Jesus is altogether worthy of our absolute worship and praise.

What can we personally give to honor Jesus this Christmas?

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.